The annual Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit Dance is the signature event for the Sable Flames, an organization of the Madison Fire Department’s African-American firefighters, that is all about having a lot of fun and raising money for worthy scholarship recipients. This year’s event, which will take place Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Concourse Hotel in downtown Madison, will have a special new award in honor of Richard L. Garner Jr., the 29-year-old beloved Madison Firefighter-Paramedic who passed away last year after completing a 48-hour shift.

“This year, to honor our fallen brother Richard, we will be presenting a very special Community Service Award to a local Madison organization that we feel is doing a lot of great hands-on work here in Madison,” Benefit Dance Chairman Doug “Guy” Johnson tells Madison365. “This year it will be presented to the 100 Black Men of Madison.”

Doug Johnson (left) and the late Richard Garner hanging out at Station 6 on Madison’s south side.
(Photo by A. David Dahmer)

Madison-area community members will join the Sable Flames at this annual evening of dancing, fun, recognition and most importantly, raising money for scholarships to help individuals fulfill their educational dreams and goals.

“Every year, we give out scholarships to Madison-area students who are usually lower-income, minority students that are going to college,” Johnson says of the Jones-Robinson Scholarship. “The Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit has been our flagship event for raising funds for that scholarship. That’s why we continue this tradition every year in February.”

The Jones-Robinson Scholarship is still available to area students and applicants will be accepted until May 1st. The Jones-Robinson Scholarship was created to honor the five children that perished in the Sommerset Circle fire on Madison’s south side in 1990.

“In that fire, five children passed away, unfortunately, and they were all brothers and sisters. The black firefighters at that time decided to create the scholarship in their name – the Jones-Robinson Scholarship – and to award that to kids who came from the same circumstances,” Johnson says. “We’ve been giving out that scholarship ever since we had our first Benefit back in 1993.

“Last year, we were able to give out three $1,500 scholarships to three deserving young ladies – Dacara Cooper, Jahdai Guerrero and Asha Thompson,” he adds. “Two of our scholars will be in attendance at this year’s fundraiser so people can see what the night is all about and who their money really helps.”

Asha Thompson

DJ Cory Rocklen will be keeping attendees on the dance floor all night at the Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit Dance.

“It’s a night of dancing and hors d’oeuvres. We host a cocktail hour from 7-9 p.m. We have a photo booth, silent auction items and a 50/50 raffle and other raffle items,” Johnson says. “It’s a time for people in the community and fire department to come together and have a good time for a great cause and try to raise some money.”

Established in 1993, the Sable Flames host numerous events and volunteer their time to provide financial support for African-American low-income families and their children to achieve higher education.

“I think right now we have about 44 Sable Flames. The Madison Fire Department, especially under Fire Chief Steven Davis, has really committed to a very diverse hiring process and we’ve done a good job over the last 8-9 years of really making that a priority. That’s what’s really helped with our numbers,” Johnson says.

“We haven’t had a lot of people retire in awhile, also, so that helps with our numbers, too,” he adds.

The Sable Flames

You don’t need to be a firefighter or friends of a firefighter to attend the Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit Dance. It’s open to everybody.

“This is an event for the whole community – everybody and anybody is welcome to come,” Johnson says. “That was the whole original premise for the event for everybody in the community to come out and have a good time together.”

What’s Johnson’s favorite part about the event?

“Honestly, my favorite part is getting to dance,” he says, laughing. “We spend so much time putting this together, getting sponsorships, and promoting, making plans, getting floor plans together. There’s so much work that goes into planning it that finally just getting on the dance floor and to be able to relax and let go – to me, that’s my favorite part. I don’t do a lot of dancing throughout the year, so it’s my one chance to let loose and enjoy the night.”

For tickets to the Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit Dance, click here. Tickets are only $40/person ($70/couple).